Following our visit from the LSC auditor, we had two files where it was a couple who worked at the same employer and both had not been paid for three months. They therefore didn't have payslips for the three months prior to their visit to us and the auditor has said that there is insufficient evidence of means. They produced the last payslips they had received.
The auditor that we should have opened only one file. However, they had been employed for different lengths of time. Does anyone know what the rules are (the caseworker split the time equally between the two clients, although she saw them both at the same time).
The auditor has said that we have stated on the file that the clients are living off their savings but there are no copy bank statements (actually there are!) but do we have to obtain bank statements from clients or do we take them at their word regarding savings?
Also, the clients' house was sold, but they stated on the CW1 that it was worth less than £100k. The auditor has said that there is no evidence of equity on the file. Does anybody know what the rule is regarding this?
Hi Nettle. I'll assume for a moment that this is an employment issue, but can you confirm the category of law, as the Matter Start rules can be different across categories. e.g. for Debt, often a couple = 1 NMS, but sometimes it can be 2 NMS.
It's not dependent simply on whether the couple live together or not, or how many people are seeking the advice.
The Category Specific rules are in Section 10 of the Standard Civil Contract Specification, along with the Supervisor Standards. The Employment-specific Matter Start rule (on top of the standard NMS rules in Section 3) is in 10.14, which does not look too good for you, as it states:
10.14 Where one set of circumstances give rise to a number of statutory claims (for example, unfair dismissal, sex discrimination, deduction from wages) and contractual claims (for example, wrongful dismissal) these should all be treated as one Matter Start under Legal Help.
If not Employment, then I'd say the starting point is probably Standard Civil Contract Paras 3.40 to 3.60, with esp. ref. to #3.50, which is headed "Multiple Clients" and states Multiple Clients 3.50 Where you act for more than one Client in relation to the same general legal problem a single Matter Start should generally be used. Matter Starts in respect of more than one Client may be commenced only where the following are satisfied: (a) If proceedings were issued each Client would need to be a party to those proceedings; (b) Each Client has a separate and distinct legal interest in the problem or issue; and (c) In considering whether there is sufficient benefit for the second or any subsequent client to receive Legal Help, you take into account the fact the Legal Help that is already being provided in relation to the same general problem.
And go on to Cat-specific rules in Section 10 (which I believe trump those in Section 3).
Re capital as in savings, we find it's quick to look at the Guidance from the LSC Onlinel Eligibility calculator. The guidance is from the Funding Code. It says this re evidence of capital: 2E-034
7. For capital, the client’s statement and signature on the application form will normally be sufficient evidence, but other documentary evidence of disposable capital must be obtained in cases of doubt (e.g. statements for current accounts, savings or other financial accounts; independent valuations for property or items of value, share certificates etc). In general terms, suppliers should obtain evidence of capital if they have reason to believe, whether through previous dealings with the client, the circumstances of the case, wealthy lifestyle indicators, or otherwise, that the client may have capital in excess of the limit or may have acted to deprive themselves of capital; particular care should also be taken on cases where a client declares capital just under the £3000 limit (for CLR immigration cases) or £8000 limit (all other cases).
8. Generally the client’s means should be assessed together with the accompanying evidence. Clients should be asked to bring the evidence with them at their first appointment.
9. Rule 2.5 of the Unified Contract Specification / Rule 3.36 of the 2010 Standard Civil Contract Specification sets out the circumstances when you may assess the client’s means without the accompanying evidence.